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First Hope, Then Assurance – Hope is…

Let’s pray before we get started. Well, Lord, we’re here at the end of things and at the beginning of things. As always, You’ve laid the path out, You’ve walked it before us, You know what’s coming, and You know exactly what You’re going to do to get us through. Whatever comes, good, bad or otherwise. We thank You for that, and we ask that You take this time now and drive these words home, in my heart, and the heart of everyone listening, and we thank You in advance in Jesus name, amen. So, last week, we finished the “First Hope, Then Assurance” series. Based on several comments and questions I got after church and in during the week, I figured we needed to do one more week. One more bit of review, just to make sure we all know where we are, and what’s going on, and why it’s so good. Okay? If you remember last week, we started with this graphic, and I’m going to build it up a little bit differently this week. Back in the Garden of Eden, there was no hope. They were hopeless. Why? Because they had face-to-face communion with God. They didn’t need hope. You had everything. Then they were deceived, and they lost hope. They went on and on for hundreds of years and we got to the Old Covenant. Did God leave them without hope in the interim? The answer is no. What hope did He give to Adam and Eve? That their seed would crush the serpent’s head. That’s kind of enigmatic. You know? It doesn’t really get specific. But God was saying “Don’t worry; I’ve got this.” and so, Eve thought her first born son would be the one to crush the serpent’s head, I’m sure. Every mother, every father has wished every child born, to be ‘that’ child. But it didn’t come, In fact, their first child firstborn murdered their second born. Then He gave a little bit of hope to Abraham Isaac, and Jacob, and what did He tell them? That through your seed, the entire world will be blessed. Again, they kinda look at him and go, well, yeah, I suppose But I don’t know what that means, I really don’t. And were those promises of hope fulfilled? Yes, but not in their life times. It took four thousands years and Jesus was born. Even when He was born, they didn’t realize that He was “the seed”. But it did come. Then we got to Moses and Israel, and the Old Covenant. What hope was offered in the Old Covenant? Don’t say, ‘none’ (chuckles) The hope of a coming Messiah. Jesus, Himself, described that. “You rely on Moses, and he’s the one who talked about Me. I am the fulfillment. of the Old Covenant Messiah.” The hope of forgiveness. What do you think the blood of bulls and goats was all about? It was supposed to be, “Thank you, God, for not snuffing me out, for not turning me to dust before the eyes of my family.” Was it a permanent forgiveness? No. Because the blood of bulls and goats can’t take away sin. But in every aspect of the word, when they came to God and said, “You know, I want to confess,” they received forgiveness. Don’t misunderstand me, they came and confessed and got forgiveness. We don’t have to do that anymore, but that’s future. The other thing they got was the hope of fellowship with God. Over and over and over again, God called them, “My people. You are My People. You are My wife, My family. You are blessed beyond all blessings because you are mine.” They were the ones, if you remember, they kept wandering away from Him He kept bringing them back with this hope of fellowship. I believe that you’re mine, Please come back to me and be mine. So, we, you know, that goes on for a couple of thousand years. Did this hope get realized? The answer is yes. When? In Jesus. You remember well, let me hold that. Jesus was everything the Old Testament pointed to. Without Him, the Old Testament is meaningless. Without Him they truly had no hope, but He did come. So, their hope was rewarded. So, we move on to the gospel. Was there hope offered in the gospels? We actually spent a little bit of time with this last week. The answer is yes, the first thing was the hope of Emmanuel; God with us. Second thing was the hope of salvation from sin, “you should call His name Jesus, because He’ll save “His people from their sins.” and, again, according to Jesus, Himself, the hope of eternal life. Whoever believes in me has eternal life. Yet, people are dying everyday. But yet, He told them that. Now you remember when the angels came to the shepherds, and they said, “unto you, “is born today, in the City of David, or in Bethlehem, a Savior. ” How did the angels identify Him? As Christ the Lord. Christ is the Greek synonym for the Hebrew Messiah. It means “The Anointed One,” “Lord” is a word that Greek really didn’t know how to use. It was very secular for them. “Lord” was somebody who was in charge. But all of the writers in the New Testament; the translators of the Hebrew Scriptures in the Septuagint, took this word and said, It’s the perfect word. So, in the Old Testament, remember we talked about this before, every once in a while you see the word lord. L-O-R-D, and the o-r-d are in small camps. That is a translation of the word Yaweh. The people who wrote–who translated the Septuagint used the Greek word for that word every time. So it became a word that meant, literally, “God”. The unspeakable name. The unknowable, the unapproachable and yet, He is the one who approaches us, and He does it through Messiah, Christ the Lord. So, the Anointed One is God, Himself. That’s why hope is not used in the gospels. Because Jesus is here. Jesus, God Himself, in human form, manifests so that we would not turn to dust. Come to save us. Did these things happen. Was this hope realized? Yes. When? We call it the gospel. In the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Then there was an exclamation point put on the whole transaction on the Day of Pentecost. So, you see what God has been doing? He’s been… and we’ve talked about this in other contexts this year. The context of covenants, the context of faith; it’s just every where you look in the Bible, God is moving from, “I’ll give you a little bit here, and I’ll give you a little more here, and I’ll give you a little more here, and a little more here, and Jesus is going to come. Jesus is going to be more than anything you’ve ever seen; anything ever that you’ve experienced. Anything that you could ever understand and yet, Jesus is here.” Then Jesus goes away and the Holy Spirit comes. Now, hope takes on a different view. So we get to the Holy Spirit. What hope is offered in the New Covenant? The hope of forgiveness? Yes or no? No. No. The hope of eternal life? No. Why? We have them. You don’t hope for what you have, see? God is revealing, and revealing and revealing. and revealing, and He’s gotten clear to Jesus, and He’s taken care of the sin problem, once and for all. Why is it that we harp on this and harp on this and harp on this, saying, “If you don’t understand the cross, and forgiveness, you can never realize the power of the resurrection” Because God did something there! Did something beyond belief. Except that He did it. So He provided forgiveness, and because of the resurrection, he provided eternal life. How did that life manifest itself Indwelling Holy Spirit. We still die, physically. Right? But, we are told that we are as children of God, already seated with Him in the heavenlies. Already there. So, hope in the New Covenant takes on a different form. Because so much of what God has promised, has come true. But not everything. So, we still need hope. That’s why hope is talked about even more in the New Testament than in the Old. Because we see what Jesus did, and we’re thrilled and we accept it, and then we go… “hsssssss, now what? How do I live my life?” So let’s take a look at hope in the New Covenant. Because that’s the hope you and I live in today. There are several different things. This isn’t everything, but I think that it constitutes the big ones. I want you to think about this in terms of 2013. Imagine that Jesus finally came, in 1945. and that He lived His life, and He was killed He was raised again, and He went back to heaven, and 10 days later, the Holy Spirit came. There were some Jews who followed God’s command and came to us, as Gentiles, and gave us the Gospel, and said, “Now you have hope,” and it’s almost 2013. and we look around and we say, “You’ve got to be kidding,” Is there anything this world has to offer that makes any sense at all? Nothing. Thankfully, nature is still out there. We’re trying to destroy it, People who are trying to save it or trying to destroy it, too. The people who are trying to destroy it, are destroying it, but it’s still there. I think God maintains nature, because it speaks of Him. It speaks of Him. The idea that we have some kind of power over creation is just silly. I mean, you know, all you have to do is talk to somebody who in the pathway of Sandy. Stop water! Yeah, right. I mean, you take a look at our society, you take a look at governments around the world, at the economies around the world, and you say, “and we should have hope??” and God would say, “Absolutely!” you should have hope!” Absolutely! Some people then say, “Well, I’ve got hope, because I know, as one of God’s children, that I’m special. and none of this stuff that’s going to happen to the world is going to happen to me. I know that, because I’m special. And if it gets too bad, God’s going to come and take me home.” Did you know there’s nothing in the Bible that says that? What does the Bible say? In this world, you’re going to have trials. You’re going to be put upon. Some of you are going to be killed for your faith. Others are going to lose their homes, others are just going to be swept up in the fog of war and pestilence and all the rest of the stuff, but fear not! Why? I have overcome the world. So, if we’re going to have hope, the kind of hope that helps us get through whatever comes, and there could be some really cool stuff that comes. Well, what’s the danger of really cool stuff? It masks the bad stuff. It causes complacency. There’s nobody more unprepared for famine, than someone who has had 3 squares their whole lives. I’m one of those people. I’ve never been hungry. I mean, I’ve fasted from lunch to supper a few times. (chuckles from audience) Great spiritual awakening those days. I’ve never been hungry. I don’t know what it means to be hungry. Some of you know what it means to be hungry, but I don’t. I don’t know what it means not to have health care around. I don’t know what it means not to have enough money to pay the bills. None of that stuff. I have lived the most blessed life imaginable, and yet, as I’ve told you before, I have trouble being content. Not enough. Not enough, God. Not soon enough, not enough of it. You know? Please God, let me win the lottery. I could use that five hundred million dollars. I would bless People to People like you wouldn’t believe! But then, I would bless my kids and my wife, and me! But! Only after You, Lord! You ever have that bargain with the Lord? That conversation? He still talks. He says things like, “Oh, really?” He hasn’t chosen to give me the lottery yet. I know–you gotta buy a ticket. (chuckles) (laughter) I actually went to Las Vegas once to gamble. We were traveling to California and we stopped there, and I went in, and I said, “I’m going to do this!” And I got a quarter out, a whole quarter! And I walked up to a slot machine and I went, “shhhhssss” No! Just couldn’t do it. And I see it as such an utter waste, that I couldn’t do it. So I saved my quarter. Probably bought a donut with it or something, you know? That wasn’t a waste. Actually got nutrition out of that. See? I’ve never been hungry. If I’d gamble more perhaps I would be. So what hope is available to us in the New Covenant? Jesus will come back. Now, the good news about this is that Jesus said it Himself. Look at this, this is out of John 14, and I’m going to only verses 3 and 4, and then a couple more… but… “..and if I go and prepare a place for you, “I will come back “and take you to be with me, that you also may be “where I am.” Jesus said He was going away, and He said, “I’m going away “to prepare a place, and if I’m preparing a place, I’m “going to come back to get you.” and even more than that, because we normally end there, you know the way to the place where I’m going. Thomas said whoa! Back up the truck. Lord, we don’t know where you’re going, so how can we know the way? Now really, that’s a logical question for someone who doesn’t have a clue. Right? Before Pentecost, disciples ask these kinds of questions. “We don’t know where you’re going, how can will we know the way?” After Pentecost, what did they say? They just give Jesus’ answer, “I am the way, I’m the truth. “and I’m the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” So wherever I’m going, and notice I’m not going to tell you where I’m going? I’m just returning to the Father. You wouldn’t understand it if I did tell you. Where’s Heaven, Lord? Well… you gotta twist your mind just a little bit. Because heaven is in a different dimension. And here, I’m with you. And here, you can’t see me. anymore, I’m in heaven. Jesus is less than a step away from each of us, and yet He’s infinitely beyond us. How is He going to explain that to us? How? He can’t. So He says, “Don’t worry about it. I’m the way. You couldn’t understand it if I told you, so just take my word for it.” Ohhh well, Lord, that takes faith. Yes, it does. Yes it does. I am the way, the truth and the life, How many times do we quote that verse and never think about it in the context of, “I’m going to prepare a place for you.” Notice how it starts in the beginning? You believed God, believed God, believe also in me. So, it’s another one of those, “I am” statements. You believed God, I am God, so believe me, and I tell you, I’m coming back. It doesn’t get any plainer than that. But He hasn’t come back yet, so we have hope. Right? This isn’t hope that I’ll win the lottery, without buying a ticket. I’m waiting for one of you to buy the ticket, and then bless me. No, that’s not hope at all, that’s just silliness. This is hope based on, the unshakable words of God, Himself. You willing to hold on to that? Let it inform your next step? Let’s look at a couple of more. The angels get into the act. Jesus actually does leave. He leaves the disciples standing there with their mouths hanging open. So, the angels show up and say, “Well, hi guys, “Why are ya standing here staring at the sky?” I mean, what would they have said? Jesus! He’s gone! No. This same Jesus not a different Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back. In the same way as you’ve seen Him go. So we know how he’s going to come back. He’s going to show up in a cloud. And He’s going to be riding that really incredible horse. There’s going to be a name on His thigh. And He’s going to speak. He’s coming back. Have you ever just sat down, for a few minutes and… especially in the midst of a stressful situation. and said, “Lord? help me realize that You’re coming back” You are coming back. That changes everything. Literally does. Another thing we hope for. These bodies are toast. I can’t tell you I’ve read I Corinthians 15, and every time I’ve been blown away. Because remember, the way I was raised, I didn’t believe a word of I Corinthians 15. It meant something completely different. But when you get to statements like this, “I declare you, brothers, “that flesh and blood cannot “inherit the kingdom of God.” Flesh and blood, that’s what we’re, sitting here, or online listening, watching, that’s what we are. We’re flesh and blood. That flesh and blood cannot, absolutely will not inherit the kingdom of God. Have you let that sink in? It’s getting easier for me to let that sink in now that I’m getting a little older. Upper middle aged; when I see my kids shaking their heads as I teeter through the room, you know? This is meaningful stuff. What is it that we spend most of our time doing in our society? Trying to make the flesh look pretty. Now that’s not such a bad thing. I like pretty flesh as much as anyone does. But, we act as if that’s the be all and end all of life. You know, if you’re thirty years old, well it was nice, but we’ll see ya. Right? I was the same way. I’m not accusing anybody of anything here. I mean, I looked at those people and said, ‘Man, it’s just too bad they couldn’t accomplish anything in their life time, Just get out of the way and let us younger people take over.” Then I turned 30, and I went, “What am I gonna do with my life?” I mean literally, I turned 30, and said what am I gonna do? Actually, we had a baby. That’ll turn you thirty faster than turning thirty. And I moved on and you know, now I’m sixty. I’m twice thirty. and I still ask myself, “Richard, what are you gonna do with your life?” and God keeps telling me, Don’t worry about it! That flesh and blood that represents you and your brain and all this physicality is not getting saved. Well, what do you mean?? No, it’s not getting saved. I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed. So, all that means, is for people who die, they get rid of the flesh a few months or years sooner than the rest of us. That’s all it means. That’s why they call it sleep. What could be better than this? We will be changed! In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound. Anybody remember that song in the Messiah? and the dead will be raised, incorruptible; imperishable, and we will be changed. Notice he says in a flash? Again, we’ve talked about this a couple of times in the last few months. Our God is a consuming fire. When the last trumpet sounds, and Jesus speaks, one of the things that happens when He speaks, is flash. Isn’t that what happens when, you know, get some gun powder someplace, or some very flammable stuff and make a powder out of it, just sit it there, and light it with a match. What does it do? *phhsssst!* it flashed, and it’s gone. It’s just powder… just ash, dust… that’s what’s going to happen to us! At the last trumpet. These bodies of flesh will flash and in a twinkling of an eye, we will be changed. It’s all new. The perishable must clothe itself with imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. That’s one of the things we hope for. It hasn’t happened yet. It’s one of the things we’re hoping for. Something else. We hope for glory. Where do you think I’m going with this? The hope of glory. Where is that? Colossians 1:27. “To them God “has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery. . “which is, Christ in you, “the hope of glory.” So, because we are children of God, and the Holy Spirit, that is, Jesus, Himself, that is God Himself living within; having been restored because of the cross and the resurrection, how God does that, again, is a mystery to me. Because He’s left us with this flesh that needs to be changed. But he has put God Himself Christ Himself, in the form of the Holy Spirit in us, and that is a hope of glory. We look at things today and say, “Whoa! Glorious!” Doesn’t hold a candle to it. I’ve seen some pretty fantastic stuff. I’ve seen some waterfalls that just take your breath away. I’ve seen forests that take a breath–your breath away. I’ve seen the Space Shuttle take off where the power represented in those solid rocket motors is so overwhelming, that the air literally fractures. When the sound comes to you, it doesn’t come to you as a “Rrrrooooarr!” It comes to you as *makes cracking sound* because the sound fractures the air. That’s glorious! And yet, doesn’t even come close to what is waiting for us. We don’t know what it looks like. We have just the slightest idea, and it’s going to blow us away. But it’s guaranteed, it’s our hope. There’s a good one. Couldn’t leave this out. The dwelling of God is with man. Not just by the Holy Spirit. This is different dwelling. This is face-to-face with God again. Revelation 21. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, “saying,..” Who is the loud voice, talking from the throne? Who’s the only one who can sit on the throne? God. Jesus. The same. So, God says with a loud voice, “Now, the dwelling place of God is with men.” What happened in Eden? Men lost the dwelling of God, by our own stupid choice. He’s going to restore that. The dwelling of God is with men. He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them, and be their God. God, Himself will be with us now, in the gospels, we’ve got, Emmanuel; God with us. That’s the God man, that is the incarnation. That’s as much of God that we could absorb without being destroyed. But now, at the end of all things, God is going to show us Himself face-to-face. That is a hope. My next verse: All evil is gone. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, nor mourning, or crying, or pain, for the old order of things is passed away. I have trouble grabbing all of that with my mind, just in sentence form, so I said, “Let’s take a slightly different view.” God Himself will wipe away every tear. God Himself will make sure that there is no more death. God Himself will make sure there is no more mourning. You know mourning is the absolute, the absolute ownership of sin? The only reason we mourn is because of sin. When sin is finally destroyed, no more mourning. No more crying. No more pain. Some of you know pain. Physical pain, emotional pain. Lost loved ones or you’ve had diseases that tear your body up. No more of that. Why is that? Because the old order, that’s this. This order has passed away. You get that? Notice the analogy here. Back in the Old Testament, when God gave the Mosaic Covenant, He set up something that was to paint a picture. And of necessity, it was a little bit limited. Then Jesus came, and the New Covenant was ushered in, and the New Covenant has taken away the Old Covenant. That’s a picture of what’s to come. We are in the old order of things right now. We have been since Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden. It’s the old order of things. It’s the sin order of things It’s the order of things in which satan says, they’re mine. God said No, they’re not. But we’re still living in the old order of things. yet, that is going to pass away because everything will be made new. “He who was seated on the throne said, ” Again, who is seated on the throne? God Himself. “I am making everything new,” Then He said, This is a direct order to John. “Write this down, “for these words are trustworthy and true.” So, the Old Covenant, was superseded by the New Covenant. Both of those covenants took place within the old order of things. But just as the new supplanted the old, there is going to be a new order of things to supplant this old order of things. Stake your life on it. That’s… all… I can say. It’s going to happen. That’s 21:5 by the way. That was a typo. Sorry. (mocking) I made a mistake! Okay. Well Jesus wasn’t satisfied with just telling the disciples I’m coming back, so he told John again and again, and again and again. I’m coming soon. That seems to be an important point. I am coming soon. I am coming soon. Yes, I am coming soon. Whatever else is going to happen, Jesus is coming soon. Now, soon to Jesus, to God, means different things than soon to you and me. We base soon on the length of our lives. 70, 80 years 90 years if you’re lucky. A hundred and ten if you’re not lucky. And soon, usually means… you know… a couple of days, or if you’re in high tech, a couple of milliseconds from now? Nano second would be even better–that’s a billionth of a second. Think about that. Jesus said I’m coming soon. Again, stake your life on it. So what we’ve done is go back through this picture, and it’s a little more concrete. What is it we’re hoping for? the return of Jesus. The getting rid of these bodies. Glory. All things made new. God with us. Not in human form, but in God’s form, because He’s taken away all evil. He’s cleansed that evil from us. The final bit of cleansing is that new body with no indwelling sin. So how do you know all of this will happen? I’m going to tell you a real quick story about Balaam. You remember Balaam. Balaam wanting to earn some money and God says, “Well, you’ll say what I tell you to say.” and here’s one of the things God told him to say. “God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man “that he should change his mind” “Does He speak, and not act? Does He promise, and not “fulfill?” what are the answers to those? Absolutely not! When God speaks, it’s already happened. When He’s promised, He will fulfill. A promise for God is the word unspoken. Because when God speaks, it is. Okay? So Jesus was promised. That was a promise. When Jesus came, that was the word of God made flesh. God spoke, and Jesus is here. Jesus spent those years speaking the truth. God is not a man. He’s not like us. He doesn’t lie, He doesn’t change His mind. He knows what He’s doing. Well that was in the Old Testament, you know, that Old Covenant stuff. Gotta spend some time back there folks. You know how to interpret it. The spirit will do that for you, but you don’t have to be afraid of it. Well, what else? Did He actually say similar things in the New? Yes, He did. Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness. And we all get hung up on the word elect, and we miss the point. A faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at His appointed season He brought this word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior. The hope of eternal life was Jesus. and Jesus came, and told Paul, “preach this” And He tells us Preach this! Because God does not lie. Hebrews. Just been through this. Just a couple of months ago. “God did this so that, “by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God “to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us “may be greatly encouraged.” We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. The only reason we have hope is because, God Himself has spoken us that hope. If God could lie, then let’s go play in the freeway with the trucks. I mean, worse than that, if God lies, then we have been duped beyond all measure for believing in Jesus Christ. And if God lies, and we were duped by Him, we should find everyone who preaches this, and kill them. We would be justified, because God would be a liar. He’d be no God at all. But our God does not lie! It’s impossible for Him to lie. This is true simply because He said it. Whether I get it or not. Whether I walk by faith in it or not. Whether I believe it or not. It’s true, and if I will believe it, it is hope. And this is the kind of hope that allows you to walk out of your house every morning and go do whatever it is you have to do, in spite of it. Doesn’t matter how sick you’ve been, how sick you’ll get; how you’ve been healed, what kind of job you have, or the job you’ve lost; the government whoever’s in charge; the economy, who ever is doing whatever to whom; it doesn’t matter, because our God doesn’t lie. We have hope. This hope does not disappoint. You see why this is so important. Why they talk about hope so much. Why the…the.. prophets, and David in particular, talked about hope so much to Israel under the Old Covenant. “Don’t give up! The Messiah’s coming!” Then the Messiah comes, and does more than we could ever have imagined. Then He says “I’m going away, that’s a good thing–you’re going to get the spirit. And the spirit is a “deposit, guaranteeing all of this.” So you have hope. None of this stuff has happened to us yet. Jesus hasn’t come, we haven’t gotten new bodies, we’re not out of the old order of things and on and on and on. But it is all guaranteed because God has thought it. One of these days He’s going to speak it. There will be a flash. We’ll be home. Let’s pray. Lord God, we are so slow to learn. I’m speaking of myself. We get caught up in the minutia of life and the little things. We lose our faith over nothing. We lose our contentment over even less. All the time You are inside of us, saying, “You are mine” You belong to me, and your future is guaranteed. Oh Lord, make it real to us. Make it something we can’t ignore, because we don’t know what’s coming. Good, bad or otherwise, we don’t know what’s coming, and if we think about what might be coming, we get fearful, then we walk away from you and try to control things. If we just keep our eyes fixed on you, our hope will be made clear, and it will light the path. We should take it. Thank You for that, in Jesus name,

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